Solar power in New Mexico

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Solar power in New Mexico in 2016 generated 2.8% [1] of the state's total electricity consumption,[2] despite a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projection suggesting a potential contribution three orders of magnitude larger.[3]

Parabolic trough[edit]

Parabolic trough solar systems have been determined to be the most cost effective large systems[citation needed], and in July 2008 New Mexico's utilities combined to release an RFP for a parabolic trough solar system to generate from 211,000 and 375,000 megawatt-hours (MW·h) per year by 2012.[4][5] New Mexico generated 514 MW·h from solar power in 2006, and 1,760 in 2007.[6]

Sandia National Laboratories[edit]

Sandia National Laboratories has been testing solar thermal devices at Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). On January 31, 2008, a Sterling solar ice-cream dish system set a solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record of 31.25 percent net efficiency. The previous record was 29.4 percent, set in 1984.[7]

Net metering[edit]

As of July 29, 2008, New Mexico has one of the most generous metering laws in the country, and covers all systems up to 80 MW. Excess generation of less than $50 is rolled over to the next month; over that is paid to the consumer.[8]

Renewable Portfolio Standard[edit]

The New Mexico Renewable Portfolio Standard calls for 20% renewable energy by 2020, and 4% from solar power from investor owned utilities, and 10% renewable from rural electric cooperatives. Renewable Energy Certificates, (RECs), may be sold through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS).[9]

Installed capacity[edit]

As of January 2012, no concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are currently planned for New Mexico. Though NREL claims the state has the "technical potential" to install 4,860,000 MW of CSP covering 47% of the area of the state, at 2017 prices such a proposal would require a total overnight cost of $18,992,880,000,000 ($18 trillion),[10] or 3,392 times the state's annual budget.[11] Even if such a feat were financially feasible, critics note New Mexico would remain dependent on burning coal and "natural gas" (fossil fuel methane) to compensate for the loss of solar at night and during cloudy weather. Thermal storage permits CSP generation to be stored and used as needed, but with a round-trip efficiency of only 38%[12] it is not currently cost-effective at a scale necessary to maintain grid reliability.[13]

New Mexico Solar Capacity (MWp)[14][15][16][17][18]
Year Photovoltaics
Capacity Installed % Change
2007 0.5 0.2 67%
2008 1.0 0.6 100%
2009 2.4 1.4 140%
2010 43.3 40.9 1704%
2011 165.5 122.1 282%
2012 203.4 37.9 23%
2013 256.6 49.1 24%
2014 325 68.4 27%
2015 365 41 12%

Solar powered facilities[edit]

Radio station KTAO, in Taos, is the largest solar powered radio station in the United States.[19]


  1. ^ "Net Generation from Solar Photovoltaic". U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Utility Scale Facility Net Generation". U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  3. ^ Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment pg. 35
  4. ^ Four utilities partner on major solar project
  5. ^ State's four major utilities partner on solar project
  6. ^ New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and Renewable Energy in New Mexico Archived 2011-02-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Solar Power: New World Record For Solar-to-grid Conversion Efficiency Set
  8. ^ Net Metering Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Renewables Portfolio Standard Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Cost and Performance Characteristics of New Generating Capacity" (PDF). U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Citizen's Guide to the New Mexico State Budget". New Mexico Voices for Children. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  12. ^ "The Value of CSP Thermal Storage". April 2013. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  13. ^ State Electricity Profiles
  14. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  15. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  16. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  17. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26.
  18. ^ New Mexico Solar
  19. ^ "KTAO – The Solar Powered Radio Station". Green Passive Solar Magazine. April 7, 2011. Retrieved 2017-11-05.


  1. ^ EIA, U.S. Energy Information Administration. EIA, U.S. Energy Information Administration EIA.Retrieved April 2017